All travel corridors in place between the UK and some regions will be temporarily closed from Monday as part of efforts to curb the spread of new coronavirus variants from countries such as Brazil and South America.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday evening that passengers coming to the UK from anywhere must now have proof of a mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 test taken at least 72 hours earlier and self-isolate for at least 10 days on arrival.
All passengers will continue to be required to fill in locator forms, with the fines in place for a breach in any of the lockdown conditions starting at 200 pounds.
"To protect us against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains, we will also temporarily close all travel corridors from 0400 hrs on Monday. Following conversations with the devolved administrations, we will act together so that this applies across the whole of UK," said Johnson.
"This means that if you come to this country, you must have proof of a negative Covid test that you have taken in the 72 hours before leaving and you must have filled in your Passenger Locator Form, and your airline will ask for proof of both before you take off. You may also be checked when you land and face substantial fines for refusing to comply," he said.
"And, upon arrival, you must then quarantine for 10 days - not leaving your home for any reason at all, or take another test on day 5 and wait for proof of another negative result. And we will be stepping up our enforcement - both at the border and in-country," he added.
International travel corridors have been in place since July 2020 for countries and territories, which included India for some time, where analysis suggested the risk of Covid-19 can be mitigated.
India had suspended its corridor with the UK at the end of last year when a new highly transmissible variant was detected in London and has since resumed some limited number of flights.
The UK's Department for Transport said that the level of risk associated with the emergence of new variants globally has now increased, requiring more stringent measures to block all potential avenues through which new strains of the virus could enter the UK while we consider how best to respond. The latest measures will be in place for at least a month until being reviewed on February 15.
"We are operating in a completely new environment in our fight against COVID-19, with several worrying new strains of the virus emerging across the globe," said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
"Now more than ever, as we make strides vaccinating people up and down the country, we need to take advantage of all measures available to us - and these robust emergency precautions will help us protect the nation to ensure we continue to make progress," he said.
The move comes as latest figures released by the government reveal that more than 3.2 million people have now been vaccinated. This represents almost 45 per cent of over-80s and nearly 40 per cent of care home residents.
The UK PM praised the National Health Service (NHS) across several regions of the UK which have achieved vaccination targets for millions in the most vulnerable categories, as he urged people to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules because more than 37,000 Covid patients remain in hospital across the UK and another 1,280 deaths have taken the country's toll from the deadly virus to 87,295.
CDC warns America of ‘dominant’ UK variant
The more transmissible Covid-19 variant which was first detected in the UK late last year and has now spread to several countries across the globe, could become the dominant virus strain in the US by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned in a report.
In the report issued on Friday, the CDC said new variant, which is 70 per cent more contagious, "could threaten already strained health care resources, require extended and more rigorous use of public health strategies and increase the percentage of the population immunity needed for herd immunity", The Hill news website reported.
The US has reported 76 variant cases across 10 states.
According to a model developed by the CDC, "rapid growth" of the variant is expected in the US in early 2021 before it becomes the dominant strain in March.